Soldiers’ Socks: Heel-Flaps and Heels

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Published Feb. 9, 1916 in the The Sydney Mail.

Just at the present time the lives of the majority of women are bounded by knitting.  Every worker asks the other how many stitches the casts on for the top of the sock, what sized needles she uses, and the class of wool she prefers. When all this has been satisfactorily explained, the question of heels and toes comes uppermost. One woman swears by the Dutch heel, another by the common or square heel, and a third by the Swiss heel. It is wonderful how many ways there are of turning a heel, and how excited the novice feels when she has negotiated the corners, as it were, with success. Every woman can cast-on and knit round and round for the leg, but the heel is quite another matter. Each worker should acquaint herself with several methods. It is a pity to be tied down to any one style, and after all there is a certain amount of variety even in a small change like this. There are many kinds of excellent heels, some being suited to one kind of foot, others to another. Amongst the number may be mentioned the Dutch or horseshoe heel (to the writer’s idea one of the very best), the French, or round gusset heel, the manufacturers heel, the Balbriggan heel, the square heel, the Swiss, the Welsh, and the Niantic. The last named is to be seen on the majority of machine-knit hosiery; but as it has no gusset it is not as elastic as the other kinds.

The general rule for heels is that when the ankle is reached the stitches are evenly divided, half being used to work on for the heel, the other half left for the instep. But as there are always exceptions each variety of heal will be dealt with in turn. For the Dutch heel the stitches are divided as above. Knit to the seam stitch, purl it, and then knit along for a quarter of the number of stitches on the needles; turn, slip1, and then purl back to the seam stitch; knit this, and then purl for another quarter of the stitches. This will give the exact half for the heel flap, with the seam stitch in the center. The worker must now knit as many rows as there are stitches, as the flap is square. To turn the heel knit to the seam stitch, purl this, and knit 5 more. Take 2 together, and turn. Slip 1, purl to the seam stitch, knit this, purl 5, purl 2 together. Continue these two rows thus until the whole of the stitches are knitted off, and 14 stitches remain for the top of the heel.  

The French heel is eminently suited to the high instep. For this proceed in exactly the same way for the flap as just described for the Dutch heel; but the “turning” is different. Slip the first stitch, knit plain to the seam stitch, purl this, and then knit 1 stitch more, knit 2 together, and knit 1; turn, slip the first stitch, purl 4, purl 2 together, purl 1; turn, slip 1, knit 5 (the seam stitch is now abandoned), knit 2 together, knit 1; turn, slip1, purl 5, purl 2 together, purl 1; turn and continue, knitting 1 stitch more each time so that the heel widens out as the work proceeds, and all the stitches are knitted in. The last row will be a purled one. Knit across, and pick up for the gusset in the usual way. The square heel also requires half the number of stitches, with the seam stitch in the centre. This stitch is then abandoned, and work must be proceeded with (one purl and one plain row) until about three inches of flap are completed. The stitches must be then cast off, and the cast off stitches sewn neatly together. This of course, makes a seam in the middle of the heel; but it should not be uncomfortable if properly sewn. At the same time, this heel is not general for soldiers’ wear, but it is simple to accomplish. The wool is then joined on from the right hand corner of the instep needle. For the manufacturer’s heel proceed in exactly the same fashion, but knit as many rows as there are stitches. Then proceed to shape the flap. Knit to within three stitches of the centre, knit 2 together, knit 1, knit 2 together, and plain to the end. Purl back. Repeat these two rows four times, when cast off and se up. The gusset stitches would be picked up as previously described.

There is a little variety with regard to the Welsh heel. Again half the number of stitches must be arranged on one needle, with the seam stitch in the center, the heel flap consisting once more of as many rows as there are stitches. Then slip 1, knit to within 10 stitches of the seam stitch, then *wool over the needle to make 1, knit 2 together, knit 5, knit 2 together, knit 1, purl the seam stitch, knit 1, knit 2 together; turn, wool over the needle to make 1, then purl to 10 stitches past the seam stitch; turn and repeat for * until all the side stitches are knitted in. Do not make a stitch in the last purl row. There should be 17 stitches when the work is completed. Later on some hints will be given on the finishing of the toes as well as full directions for refooting a sock.

Q – When doing a search for Welsh Heel, this article came up as a hit. I found it quite interesting. In researching old sock knitting patterns, the heels always refer to a “seam stitch”. It appears that pre-knitting-in-the-round, socks would be seamed up at this point. I’ll be discussing the seam stitch in upcoming blogs.

QHave a happy crafty day!

A Jump Start On April

HiyaHiya Diamondoid Lace Socks

HiyaHiya Diamondoid Lace Socks

The March socks are finished so I’m jump-starting April’s socks. April’s gem is the diamond and the flower is the daisy. Things just kinda fell into my lap for the April socks. I’m quite intrigued by brown diamonds and I found the Hiya Hiya Ravelry Group. To kill-to-birds-with-one-stone,  I’m knitting the free, as long as I finish them by April 8, Hiya Hiya Diamondoid Lace Socks using a self-striping On Your Toes yarn. These were originally started as a mystery pattern, so after I finish one clue, I email the moderator and she sends the next clue. I just finished the gusset on Clue 3, and am ready to do the heel. Starting the sock early really isn’t in the spirit of the Sock-It-To-Me 2015 group, so I’ll use this sock and let them know I started it early.

In order to increase my sock knitting skills, every month will be a new challenge. For February’s socks leg pattern down the heel flap, instead of the heel flap I’m used to, and turning the heel was a different technique.  I changed the pattern on the  March socks to include a lace pattern and I’ve never knit anklets. April’s socks are my first go at toe-up knitting! True confessions time…… I grabbed a US 2 needle instead of a US 1.5 the first time I started these socks. Got through the second clue and noticed that the socks would easily fit Andre the Giant! I know, I know, why didn’t I knit a swatch to check my gauge? That would have caught the mistake in needle size immediately. Sigh….. I really am enjoying the toe-up experience. BTW I belong to the Addicted to Knitting Socks on Facebook. What a great group of people! As one member said, she loves the sock “porn”. Such stunning socks! And the yarn…… Yummy! Knitting socks is my latest kick!


Daffodils Are Here


My March, Sock-It-To-Me 2015, Ravelry group, Daffodil socks are done! The birthstone for March is aquamarine and it’s flower the daffodil. I had originally planned on knitting a pair of socks evoking the wonders of water, using a beautiful skein of yarn with various shades of aquamarine with just a hint of yellow, which I ordered from an Etsy vendor. However, the Etsy time for my review came in before the skein was even sent. I had to email the person after 5 days to see when it would be sent. Sigh…… I’ve never had this problem before. So on to Plan B – I knit the Worsted Anklet pattern by JoAnne Turcotte for Kraemer Yarns, adding a lace pattern to the top. The original, Elisabeth Lavold wool was putty color, so, after the socks were done, I overdyed the socks into this pretty daffodil color. I’ve never overdyed after a project was finished before so my fingers were crossed. The pattern looks as if those are closed daffodil bud.

Undyed Daffodil Sock showing pattern

Undyed Daffodil Sock showing pattern

The socks were knit using a magic loop. For me, circular knitting is either done on two needles or using the magic loop. With this pattern, there were a total of 40 stitches, 20 on each part. The lace pattern for the instep was based on a 16 st pattern, an 8 stitch repeat. I knit two stitches before beginning the pattern and two stitches at the end of the pattern to give the 20 stitches required. I know I’ve blogged about using graph-lined index cards to make my knitting easier. This is the card I used while knitting the lace pattern on Daffodil. For my foot length (Ladie’s size 8), I repeated the lace pattern 3 times.

Lace Pattern for Daffodil

Lace Pattern for Daffodil

I add the two + on either end of the pattern as a visual reminder to me that I had to knit the first two and last two stitches of the row. Knit the pattern on the odd rows and knit across the even rows.  I’m not sure when I changed from having to read a row of printed lace pattern to being able to read a chart. Hasn’t been that long.


Demystifying German Knitting Charts

Orient - Puntasam

Orient – Puntasam

With half of my ancestry being Norwegian, I own quite a few printed-in-English books with Norwegian patterns and even one book in Norwegian. The books really do not have “recipe” based instructions which we knitters in the US seem to rely on. I’ve notice the German sock patterns I’ve been translating have the same type of instructions; example for a sock cuff, K1, P1 until length you want.  Or for the heel: Knit the heel the way you like on 30 stitches. I don’t remember every seeing my mom use a knitting pattern. She just measured us and knit-to-fit. Elizabeth Zimmerman’s books are a good example of using math in order to make knits fit the way mom did.

Another noticeable feature in the German sock patterns, is that each pattern developer seems to use her own special symbols to represent stitches on the knitting charts. Each chart did come with a key which is easily translated into US knitting terms. If you read yesterday’s blog you can probably figure this out for yourself. All the sock patterns came from Sockenmusterthread der Zweite

This is the English translation for the above key for the Orient socks chart by Puntasam.

rechte Masche = Knit stitch (K)

Umschlag = Yarn over (YO)

zwei Maschen rechts zusammen stricken = Knit two stitches together (K2tog)


Froschkoenig key

Froschkoenig key

Rechts verschränkt = Knit through back loop

linke Masche = Purl

einfache Abnahme = Slip slip knit (ssk)

rechte Masche = Knit

Zopf 3 Maschen hinter die Arbeit legen = Cable 3 stitches held behind the work

Zopf 3 Maschen vor die Arbeit legen = Cable 3 stitches held in front of the work

Umschlag = yarn over

zwei Maschen rechts zusammen stricken = knit 2 together

Sunshine by Puntasam


Sunshine by Puntasam

linke Masche = Purl

Umschlag = Yarn over (YO)

zwei Maschen rechts zusammen stricken = knit 2 together (Note the different symbols in Sunshine and Froschkoenig for this stitch)

Treibgutwellen by Puntasam

Remember I mentioned that there are lots of compound words in German? The title of these socks intrigued me so I pasted it into Google translate and came up with “Treigutwellen”. Hum….. I could see three distinct words in the title so I added spaces and did these words: Trieb gut wellen which literally translate to “waves drive good”.  The socks have a wave pattern so this name fits.

Triebgutwellen by Puntasam

Triebgutwellen by Puntasam

1 Masche rechts 1 Umschlag wobei bei den geraden Runden die Umschläge rechts ver- schränkt gestrickt werden, damit keine Löcher entstehen. = YO, Knit 1 through back loop. Good video here it’s in German but the video is easy to follow.

rechte Masche = Knit

zwei Maschen rechts zusammen stricken = knit 2 together

1 überzogene Abnahme (1 Masche rechts abheben 1 Masche rechts stricken und die abgehobene Masche darüber ziehen) = skp (slip 1, knit 1, pass slipped stitch over)

linke Masche = Purl

These are just four of the sock chart keys. For any of the charts in German, just print them out and add the English translation by the key. If your more comfortable with our traditional symbols, re-write the chart. I’ve also found another German – English Dictionary of Knitting which I really like since it is on one page and translates  400 German knitting words and phrases. Do not be intimidated by the language!

I’ve been lusting after a pattern written in Finnish, land of my pre-1600, maternal ancestors. That will be a task to translate, because the language is not familiar to those of us whose language is of Indo-European origin: English, German, French, Spanish, etc. Finnish is a member of the Uralic language family, along with Estonian. At least when I saw the German word  “gut” I knew it was translated as “good”.  In Finnish good is “hyvä”, not at all familiar. Wish me luck!

QThanks for stopping by. Now go have a crafty day.

FO: Tidal Wave Socks

Tidal Wave_

Tidal Wave Socks by Deby Lake


Tidal Wave and Shoes

Tidal Wave and shoes

Love, love, love the way these socks fit! Softer that soft! No judging! But….. I actually blogged about starting these socks on July 15, 2012, This Sock Pattern Is Much Better! Yarn? Debbie Macomber Petals, (merino, angora, and nylon). Pattern? Tidal Wave Socks by Deby Lake. WIP finished = check!

QThanks for stopping by for a visit. Now go have a crafty day.